Thursday, June 16, 2022
HomeFactsWhy Do I Get Bad Migraines On My Period

Why Do I Get Bad Migraines On My Period

Signs Of Hormone Headaches

I get bad headaches during my period. What can I do?

It’s worth keeping a diary for at least 3 menstrual cycles to help you check whether your migraines are linked to your periods.

If they’re linked, a diary can help to pinpoint at what stage in your cycle you get a migraine.

The Migraine Trust has an online headache diary, which may be a useful tool.

Triptans Can Play A Preventive Role

But there are certain types of triptans that are longer acting, which can make them useful in helping to prevent a migraine attack or make it less severe, says Hindiyeh.

Your shorter-acting triptans such as Imitrex and Maxalt typically have a half-life of about four hours, she explains. The half-life of a drug is the length of time required for the concentration of that drug to decrease;to;half its;starting dose in the body, according to StatPearls.

There are also triptans that have a longer half-life. For example, Frova has a half-life of 26 hours, and Amerge has a half-life of 6 to 8 hours. These longer-acting ones can often be used as a mini-prophylaxis right around your period, she says.

If you know your period is a big trigger for a migraine attack, you can start taking one of those longer-acting triptans a couple days before your period on a schedule, either every day or twice a day for a few days in row, depending on the medication. This can help prevent the migraine attack from getting so bad, says Hindiyeh.

What Are The Treatment Options For Menopausal Migraines

If you need to continue estrogen supplements after menopause, you should start on the lowest dose of these agents, on an uninterrupted basis. Instead of seven days off the drug, you may be told to take it every day. By maintaining a steady dose of estrogen, the headaches may be prevented. An estrogen patch may be effective in stabilizing the levels of estrogen.

You May Like: What Causes Blurry Vision Migraine

Why Do I Get Really Bad Headaches During My Period

If your head starts throbbing around the first day of your period, its probably more than just a headache: Its a menstrual migraine. And the short answer to this question is hormones. As estrogen drops in the days leading up to a menstrual period, a womans risk for migraine rises. This could be because estrogen helps activate parts of the brain that regulate the brains’ perception of pain. The lower the estrogen, the fewer resources the brain has to mute the pain.

Of the four in ten women who experience a migraine in their lifetimes, more than 50 percent say that migraines and menstruation go hand in hand. Research shows that migraine risk rises 25 percent in the five days leading up to the first day of a period, and that risk increases to 71 percent within two days before the period starts. The risk of migraine is highest on the first day of a period and two days afterward.

There are a few ways to both treat and prevent headaches during your period, but they depend on what kind of menstrual migraines you get, says Dr. Rashmi Halker, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic Arizona and a fellow at the American Headache Society.

“If a woman has very predictable, regular cycles and she has a very predictable headache that comes on with her menstrual cycle, sometimes we use a mini-prevention’ around that vulnerable period, Halker explains. “If her cycles are irregular, kind of sporadic, then youd treat it like any other migraine.”

Theres A Distinct Migraine Phase With Its Own Symptoms That Begins When Your Head Pain Ends

Headache Before Period: Causes, Treatment, Prevention Tips ...

For people who do not have migraine, the worst headache they ever experience may be the one that accompanies their hangover after a night of heavy drinking. A migraine hangover is much more complicatedit is a distinct phase in a migraine attack that begins once peak head pain dissipates. It symptoms can closely resemble the hallmarks of a typical hangover, like fatigue, dehydration, body aches and mental fogginess. For many, the effects of a migraine hangover may be just as debilitating as the period of head pain that precedes it.

You May Like: What To Do When U Have A Migraine

Can You Prevent These Headaches

There are a few methods your doctor might suggest.

Hormonal:Birth control pills or estrogen patches and vaginal rings may help lower the number of menstrual migraines you have or make them less severe. But they donât work for everyone. In some cases, they could make your migraines worse.

Your doctor might tell you to stay on birth control for 3 to 6 months without taking any placebo pills. This will prevent you from having a period and may stop your headaches.

If you get migraines with auras, using birth control that contains estrogen and progesterone isnât a safe option. Taking it could make you more likely to have a stroke. Other reasons your doctor may not want you to take birth control for your menstrual migraines:

Contraceptives As A Treatment For Menstrual Migraine

Hormonal contraceptives are a useful option if menstrual migraine is a problem and you also need contraception. Options may include:

Progestogen-based contraceptives to prevent ovulation .

  • These include desogestrel – Cerazette®), the contraceptive implant , or the contraceptive injection.
  • Most women with migraine at any age can use progestogen-based contraceptives – even if they have migraine attacks with aura.
  • The only time you would not be advised to use progestogen-based contraception is if you started to develop migraine attacks with aura only after starting to take one of these types of contraceptive.

Combined hormonal contraceptives ;also prevent ovulation; however, during the pill-free week some women with menstrual migraine will still experience their headaches. Moreover, not all women with menstrual migraine can take these treatments.

In some women with migraine who use combined hormonal contraceptives, migraine attacks are also triggered by the drop in the blood level of oestrogen during the pill-free or patch-free interval.

You May Like: What Triggers An Ocular Migraine

Menstrual Migraine Vs Menstrually Related Migraine

There are several types of migraine, and a subset of migraine is menstrual migraine, which, simply stated, is when a person has migraine attacks only around menstruation, says Dr. Hindiyeh.

There is also menstrually related migraine, which means that although you certainly get migraine around your monthly cycle, youll also get migraine attacks at other times of the month, Hindiyeh says.

Most women who have migraine attacks around the time of menstruation have menstrually related migraine, according to Hindiyeh. Their menstrual cycle will certainly be a trigger, but they also have other triggers or other times when theyll get migraine , says Hindiyeh.

Why Do I Get Period Headaches

Menstrual migraine | Why do I get migraines during my monthly cycle | period?

Your hormones fluctuate throughout your monthly menstrual cycle, says James Woods, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester. Just before your period beginsassuming you;didnt become pregnant after ovulationyour estrogen levels drop sharply.

People sometimes dont realize that our hormones are linked to brain chemicals and to our mental state, says Dr. Woods. Any sudden change in hormones can mean changes in mood or anxiety levels, or it can mean experiencing more symptoms like headaches.

Research suggests that up to 20% of women experience a form of migraine tied to their period, known as menstrual migraines. These tend to occur in the two days leading up to a period and the three days after a period starts.

Its hard to say whether all period-related headaches are migraines, says Dr. Woods, since the definition of migraines has changed and expanded over the years. But what we can say is that the vast majority of these headaches are linked to this drop in hormones, he says.

RELATED: 10 Things That Mess With Your Period

Also Check: Can Migraines Cause Swelling In The Face

What Can I Do To Help Relieve The Symptoms Of A Menstrual Migraine

Do your best to figure out what makes your hormone headaches better or worse. For example, if light causes pain and you feel overheated, stay in a cool, dark room. Additional tips include:

  • Keep your blood sugar levels up by eating small, frequent snacks. Never miss a meal.
  • Learn relaxation techniques.
  • Avoid too little or too much sleep, and keep a regular sleep pattern.
  • Change your diet, if needed.
  • Avoid stress when you can, and learn how to manage it when you cant.

What Triggers Migraines In Women

In addition to a drop in estrogen, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy for menopause can change the frequency or severity of migraines. If you notice your migraine headache getting worse after starting one of these medications, it may be worthwhile to ask your healthcare provider for a medication that contains a lower dose of estrogen, or ask for a change from an interrupted dosing regimen to a continuous one.

Don’t Miss: How To Get A Migraine

Other Causes Of Migraine Attacks

Certain risk factors, such as age and family history, can play a role in whether you get migraine or menstrual migraine. Simply being a woman puts you at increased risk.

Of course, you cant control your sex, age, or family tree, but it may help to keep a migraine diary. This can help you identify and avoid triggers.

Can Headaches Before Period Be A Sign Of Pregnancy

Headache During Period: Causes, Treatments, and More

Many women have a hard time figuring out if they are pregnant, have PMS, or are about to start their period. The symptoms are similar and include:

  • mood swings
  • vaginal discharge
  • darkening or enlargement of the areola or nipple

The best way to find out if you are pregnant is with a pregnancy test. You can find home pregnancy test kits at pharmacies and most grocery stores.

Don’t Miss: Can Migraines Cause You To Throw Up

Regular Exercise Can Help Prevent Menstrual Migraine

When we consider all the strategies to prevent migraine attacks, I love it when people choose to make lifestyle modifications that can make a real difference, says Hindiyeh.

There’s lots of evidence to suggest regular aerobic exercise can work as a preventive medication all on its own, and there are some studies to suggest that yoga and HIIT can be helpful as well, says Hindiyeh.


Not only can regular exercise help prevent migraine attacks for some people, but also, if the headache is mild, a short bout of exercise can actually help relieve that headache that’s happening, according to Hindiyeh.

On the other hand, overexerting yourself can be a trigger for migraine, especially if you are already having a migraine attack, she says.

One of the cardinal definitions and features of migraine is that normal activity can make you feel worse. If you’re already in the middle of a severe migraine attack, moving around excessively is going to make things worse for you; its probably not the best time to go for a jog or do some aerobic activity, says Hindiyeh.

Treatment Menstrually Related Migraine

As you review these, remember that all medications have side effects, and you should discuss them with your doctor.

In general, MRM can be effectively managed with strategies similar to those used for non-MRM. Behavioral management is an important concept in menstrual as well as nonmenstrual migraine. Menstruation is one of many factors that put women at risk for migraine disease. Hormonal changes are just one of many potential trigger factors.

Most women living with menstrually related migraine are treated with acute medications. When attacks are very frequent, severe, or disabling, preventive treatment may be required.

Don’t Miss: How Long Can An Ocular Migraine Last

Whats The Relationship Between Hormones And Headaches

Headaches in women, especially migraines, are related to changes in the levels of estrogen. Levels of estrogen drop immediately before the start of your menstrual flow .

Premenstrual migraines regularly occur during or after the time when the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, drop to their lowest levels.

Migraine attacks usually improve during pregnancy. However, some women have reported that their migraines started during the first trimester of pregnancy, and then went away.

Medicines That Prevent Menstrual Migraine


Talk to your doctor about whether these medications might help you stop your headaches before they start.

If your periods don’t come on schedule or you also get migraine headaches at other times in your menstrual cycle, you can take preventive medicine every day. Drugs that prevent migraine headaches include:

  • Some types ofÂ;antidepressants
  • Some types of antiseizure medicines
  • Blood pressure medicines such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers
  • CGRP inhibitors, these are a new class of preventive medicine

Devices which may be used for treatment or prevention include:.

  • Cefaly, a small headband device that sends electrical pulses through the forehead to stimulate a nerve linked withÂ;migraines
  • Spring TMS or eNeura sTM, a device for people who have an aura before migraine headaches. You hold it at the back of your head at the first sign of a headache, and it gives off a magnetic pulse that stimulates part of the brain.Â;
  • Noninvasive vagus nerve stimulator Â;gammaCoreÂ;is a hand-heldÂ;portable deviceÂ;placed over the vagus nerve in the neck. It releases a mild electrical stimulation to the nerve’s fibers to relieve pain.

Recommended Reading: How Does Excedrin Migraine Work

How Are Menstrual Migraines Treated What Medicines Can I Use

A menstrual migraine is usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications . The NSAIDs most often used for menstrual migraine include:

  • Ketoprofen .
  • Analgesics.
  • Corticosteroids.

These drugs should also be started two to three days before your period starts. Continue taking them throughout your menstrual flow.

Because fluid retention often occurs at the same time as your menses, diuretics have been used to prevent menstrual migraines. Some healthcare providers may recommend that you follow a low-salt diet immediately before the start of your menses.

Leuprolide is a medication that affects your hormone levels. Its used only when all other treatment methods have been tried and havent worked.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Menstrual Migraine

The symptoms of a menstrual migraine are the same as the symptoms for other types of migraines:

  • Headache pain that ranges from dull to a severe throb.
  • Feeling very warm or cold .
  • Sensitivity to light, noise and smells.
  • Tender scalp.
  • Nausea and vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea or fever .

Read Also: Does Aspartame Cause Migraine Headaches

How Is Menstrual Migraine Diagnosed

There are no tests available for menstrual migraine. The most accurate way to tell if you have menstrual migraine is to keep a;diary;for at least three months recording both your migraine attacks and the days you menstruate.

For menstrual migraine to be diagnosed migraine should occur predominately between two days before and up to three days into menstruation, in at least two out of three consecutive menstrual cycles.

Treatment Options For Menstrual Migraine

Period headaches: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

There are several treatment options depending on the regularity of your menstrual cycle, whether or not you have painful or heavy periods, menopausal symptoms ;or if you also need contraception.

If you have regular periods your doctor may suggest taking medication for a few days around the time of menstruation .

There are different options available and your doctor should suggest the option that suits you. It could include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or mefenamic acid, oestrogen supplements or triptans.

  • Frovatriptan tablet
  • Zolmitriptan tablet

It is possible that these treatments may delay the migraine attack rather than prevent it.

You May Like: Do You Push Through Migraine

When To See A Doctor

Nervous about visiting the doctor with period pains only to get a response of Its just a part of being female. Thatll be $500. ?To avoid an unnecessary trip, if your period headaches are mild, theres probably not much a doctor can do to help. But, if you have extreme nausea, vomiting, or if you cant go to work because youre in so much pain, you need to see your doc.

These headaches could have another more serious underlying cause. Even if they are just period headaches, the doctor may be able to prescribe something for your severe symptoms.

All in all, with some trial and error, you should be able to get your monthly head pain under control. When in doubt, consult your doctor. They can help you figure out a treatment plan that works.

Is It Migraine Or A Headache

Migraine attacks are different than common headaches. They typically cause severe levels of throbbing pain and usually occur on one side of the head. Migraine is categorized as with aura or without aura.

If you have migraine with aura, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms in the 30 minutes before your attack:

  • seeing flashes of light
  • seeing unusual lines or spots
  • a temporary loss of vision
  • numbness in the hands or face
  • tingling sensations in the hands or face
  • changes in speech
  • unusual changes in smell, taste, or touch

The symptoms of migraine with aura can also include:

  • nausea
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • pain behind one eye or one ear
  • pain in one or both temples

Common headaches are never preceded by an aura and are typically less painful than migraine.

There are different kinds of headaches, including:

  • Tension headaches. High levels of stress and anxiety can cause tension headaches. They may also be caused by muscle tension or strain.
  • Cluster headaches. These headaches are often mistaken for migraine. They typically cause pain on one side of the head and may include other symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, or nasal congestion.

Read Also: Where Do You Inject Botox For Migraines


Popular Articles